The business landscape of today and tomorrow depends on the use of technology in all facets of operations. Technology applications have been and will continue to be, a critical part of success for associations that embrace their capabilities. To keep up with the ever-evolving needs of customers and team members alike, it’s important for industry leaders to evaluate their current technological infrastructure regularly.
By investing in the right tools for their organization's goals and staying ahead of trends, associations can set themselves apart in the competitive marketplace - proving that progress is more than possible: it's necessary. The times have changed and so have our tech needs, but one thing remains clear: associations need tailored applications to drive their success.
In this three-part blog series, we’re going to focus on recent InfoTech research that suggests the application priorities when it comes to reaching your goals and objectives in 2023. Part one discussed what considerations should be made when exploring your Digital Experience plan, while part two covered the importance of Intelligent Automation and how it can become a part of your association’s digital strategy. The final post in this series is going to explore the importance of Proactive Application Management.
Application management is making sure that software is successfully delivered and maintained for sustainable business operations. It consists of a set of repetitious activities needed to rationalize and roadmap products and services while balancing priorities of new features and maintenance tasks. In addition, application management teams are also responsible for new value delivery that may not have been part of the original release.
Quickly fixing defects and issues when they occur is critical but the ability to reactively address them is the goal. Discovering these problems early and employing the necessary practices to prevent them will save time and money. Something else to consider is that even if an application is working well, its framework, architecture, and technology may not be compatible with the possible upcoming changes stakeholders and vendors may want to undertake. This means that even if applications are not a problem now, they soon can be. Therefore, it’s important that proactive application management be disciplined and applied strategically.
It’s also important to realize that applications begin to degrade as soon as they are used, gradually losing their value, stability, robustness, and compatibility with other enterprise technologies. The longer that applications are left unattended, the greater change that risks can happen, including:
Furthermore, these impacts are made worse when the work is done on a system already burdened with technical debt. Technical debt is the result of avoided costs that, over time, cause ongoing business impacts. If technical debt isn’t addressed, it can become an existential threat that risks your organization’s ability to effectively compete and serve its customers. Unfortunately, many associations have a significant, growing, unmanageable technical debt portfolio.
Infiltrating and compromising applications are becoming more common and continue to concern stakeholders. Unfortunately, loopholes and gaps in existing application security protocols, control points, and end-user training are exploited to gain the trust of unsuspecting users and systems. With proactive application management, you’re able to enforce continuous security reviews to determine whether applications are at risk. The goal is to prevent an incident from happening by hardening or complementing measures already in place.
If associations are not actively refactoring and updating their applications behind the scenes, it can lead to serious consequences. Decisions to meet business demands by deferring key quality, architectural, or other software delivery activities often lead to inefficient and incomplete code, fragile legacy systems, broken processes, data quality problems, and other contributors to technical debt. The impact of this challenge is further heightened if organizations are not actively refactoring and updating their applications behind the scenes. Proactive application management is intended to raise awareness of application fragility and prioritize comprehensive refactoring activities alongside new feature development.
Applications are designed, developed, and tested against a specific set of parameters which may become less relevant over time as the business matures, technology changes, and user behaviors and interactions shift. Continuous monitoring of the application system, regular stakeholder and user feedback, and active technology trend research and vendor engagement will reveal tasks to prepare an application for future value opportunities or stability and resilience concerns.
A proactive approach means that configurations meet the current needs of users and dependent technologies. This makes it possible for users to expect the same level of performance and experience from their applications in all scenarios.
When you’re proactive about managing applications, they are resilient to the latest security concerns and upcoming trends.
Continuous improvements to the underlying architecture, codebase, and interfaces can minimize the cost to maintain and operate the application.
It’s possible that stakeholders may not see the association between the application’s value and its technical quality.
Like any other application function, updates and enhancements are system changes, and depending on the priority of these changes, new functions may be pushed off to a future release cycle.
Application teams require dedicated capacity in order to proactively manage applications. However, they are often occupied meeting other stakeholder demands.
Oftentimes, maintenance is viewed as a support function rather than an enabler of growth. Focusing and investing in applications only becomes a priority when problems arise. However, ensuring that product issues, incidents, defects, and change requests are promptly handled will minimize business and IT risks. By streamlining application management and applying the appropriate management approaches, you’ll be able to maintain business continuity and balance priorities. This practice serves as the foundation for creating exceptional member and customer experience by emphasizing cross-functional accountability for member value and product and service quality.
Having a plan to manage technical debt will help prevent it from becoming a business risk. This may mean creating a compelling argument to stakeholders as to why technical debt should be a business priority rather than just an IT one. Begin by defining and identifying your technical debt. Next, conduct an impact analysis and identify opportunities to better manage technical debt.
Application portfolio management is nearly impossible to perform without an honest and thorough understanding of your portfolio’s alignment to business capabilities, business value, total cost of ownership, end-user reception and satisfaction, and technical health. Therefore, gauging your application’s health is imperative.
Ultimately, application management is a key factor for success. It requires an understanding of the software lifecycle from development and support to maintenance and retirement. Devising dynamic strategies rooted in experience will help to identify and manage current issues while simultaneously identifying new opportunities that may arise. This can deliver long-term growth and ensure a smooth transition through various technological changes. Even though there will always be improvements that can be made, the goal is to keep applications running efficiently so they don’t hinder daily operations or business objectives. Application management involves working with multiple vendors, users, stakeholders, and technologies, making it an invaluable skill that can raise efficiency levels across all departments in an organization.
Our Software Assessment is the first step to developing data-driven insights to help you decide which applications to retire, upgrade, retrain on, or maintain to meet the demands of the business. Want to learn more? Click here.